Ophthalmology Education Leadership Attitudes Toward Mentorship of Female Medical Students

Paul M, Dweck M, Chadha N
Amercian Journal of Ophthalmology
Nov 2022

Purpose: Numerous studies have emphasized the influence of gender-specific mentors in medical students' career decisions, but this has not been explored fully in ophthalmology. Therefore, this study evaluated ophthalmology educators' attitudes toward female mentorship, to better understand how this may relate to medical students' career development and training.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: A 22-question survey was sent to Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) chairs, program directors (PDs), and medical student educators (MSEs). The number of female students applying to ophthalmology residency was compared to the number of female ophthalmology faculty using AUPO and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) workforce data. Student t tests and χ2 were used for analyses, all at a threshold significance level of P <.05. Results: 75 members responded, including 30 of 72 MSEs (41.7%), 34 of 114 PDs (29.8%), and 17 of 135 chairs (12.6%). Of respondents, 55.4% identified as female and 44.6% as male. Male and female members had 47.9% and 47.6% female mentees, respectively (P = .45). However, 21.2% of male versus 56.1% of female members agreed that a mentee of the same gender was important (P < .01). Furthermore, 13 of 40 female members (32.5%) reported having a significant female mentor themselves vs 1 of 29 male members (3%) (P < .01).

Conclusions: Male and female AUPO members reported no difference in female mentees, but females were more likely to feel gender-specific mentorship was important, suggesting room for further development of this resource. Expansion of female mentorship in ophthalmology can promote equity in training and help address the lack of female representation in leadership.